Jan 20, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterThe Riverton resident is the first person from Wyoming to serve on the Ducks Unlimited body.
Riverton resident Howard Johnson was elected recently to the Ducks Unlimited national board of directors, becoming the first Wyoming resident to serve on that body. The new position caps Johnson's 34 years of service to the organization.
The election was in May at the group's national convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Ducks Unlimited is an organization of sportsmen and women that works to conserve wetland habitat to preserve waterfowl populations. Over 75 years, it has saved more than 12 million acres in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Johnson said the non-profit organization has an annual budget of $160 million a year.
The board of directors sets policies for the organization, which claims 550,949 members in the United States. Johnson said he has also been appointed to a committee that works on legislative issues.
Some bills he will work on address wetlands conservation funding, farmers who conserve land and the federal duck stamp, a required permit for waterfowl hunters.
A Ducks Unlimited event more than three decades ago first interested Johnson in the organization. He said speakers at the event talked about the group's mission, and he liked it.
"Ducks's projects are good for all wildlife," he said.
He explained wetlands benefit both people and other animals.
Johnson was elected in July 2012 to become state council chairman and was Wyoming state chair for nearly four years.
He has contributed in other ways besides holding office. Seventeen years ago he started the Riverton sponsor event, a fundraiser for large donors, and also helped initiate the ladies' event in Riverton.
Under Johnson's leadership, Wyoming's state Ducks Unlimited organization was ranked second in the nation. The ranking is based on criteria such as funds raised, efficiency of money spent, number of members and number of events.
Johnson said he is an avid waterfowl hunter, and geese are his favorite game.
He said Fremont County's waters have had plenty of geese and ducks in early January because a cold weather system north of Wyoming recently drove them south.
On Thursday, he hunted with Ducks Unlimited officials who were in Riverton for the state chapter's upcoming annual retreat. Johnson estimates he saw about 10,000 mallards and 1,000 geese on that one day.
The local Ducks Unlimited chapter is actively conserving waterfowl habitat in Fremont County.
On Dec. 27, Don and Ellen Strube donated Strube Pond, a 26-acre wetlands, to the non-profit organization. The property had been a part of the Strubes' ranch.
Johnson said Ducks Unlimited will perform remedial work on the pond to correct its water flows, and the organization will place a conservation easement on it so it provides a habitat for ducks and geese in perpetuity.
He said his organization is planning several conservation projects for the coming year around Ocean Lake as well.
Outside of his work with Ducks Unlimited, Johnson is the chairman of the board of civil engineering and surveying firm Inberg-Miller Engineers and lives with his family in Riverton.
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